TSR: "I'm quite stunned that people are so surprised"

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Length: 3:54

WOLF BLITZER: Thanks very much.

Let's go to Baghdad. Michael Ware is our reporter on the scene. He's just been embedded with U.S. troops in the Anbar Province.

You spent a lot of time going back there, more than three years. How gloomy is your personal assessment now of what's happening in Anbar, Michael?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I mean, to be honest, I'm quite stunned that people are so surprised by this report. I mean, the situation has not deteriorated. It's been like this for over a year, perhaps even two.

I mean, it can still be reclaimed. I mean, it's not "all is lost," and I think people who suggest that fail to understand the true dynamic. But certainly what the Marine general in charge of al-Anbar said tonight on the conference call is that he admitted for the first time that right now, today, through the combination of either U.S. and/or Iraqi forces, he does not have enough troops to win against the al-Qaeda insurgency.

His mission is to train, he said. If his mission was to change and to be to win, then his metrics, his troop numbers would have to change.

This is not new. Al-Qaeda has owned al-Anbar for quite some time. And the soldiers out there are being left out there undermanned just to hold the line. They've been screaming for more troops for at least a year and a half -- Wolf.

BLITZER: But it seems like the U.S. military has put a priority, as you know, Michael, on getting the job done in Baghdad and the surrounding areas of Baghdad. That's where they are bringing reinforcements. That's where they are moving troops. And they are sort of relegating the Anbar Province out in the west, which is a huge part of Iraq, to a lesser priority.

Is that accurate?

WARE: That's certainly what I'm being told by senior military intelligence officials. They are saying that al-Anbar and Ramadi can fester -- can fester, like a sore -- as long as we win Baghdad. But that's very shortsighted.

I mean, if this is the global war on terror, President Bush put al-Anbar in the center of the war on terror. And they are undermanning it.

I mean, this is making al-Qaeda stronger, not weaker. This is giving them the oxygen they need to breathe -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And you've just come back from Ramadi, one of your many visits to this part of Iraq. Give us a little flavor.

We're showing our viewers some video that you came back with, you and your crew. Give us a little flavor, Michael, of how the U.S. men and women, the military personnel who are deployed to the Anbar Province, how they are dealing with this. What kind of mood they are in.

What's going on?

WARE: Well, I mean, we've just seen a new brigade go in and the other brigade come out. There's some crossover. There's some units that I've spent a lot of time with.

I mean, there's some units out there that literally I've seen them bleed on the streets. And one of them is about to go home. And they stand by their resolve to fight where the president needs them.

But the toll it has taken on them out there... I mean, Ramadi is referred to as the "Meat Grinder." And that's really what it's been.

I mean, it's just so hard to express, Wolf, what the -- what the battle is like out there. And it's a false measure. I mean, America, at the end of the day, in terms of fighting al-Qaeda here in Iraq, is not committing to the fight.

And it's the same across the country. Al-Anbar does not have enough troops. Iraq does not have enough troops. You either do this war, or you don't. And that's the feeling of the men on the ground -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Michael Ware, our reporter.

Thanks. Michael, very much.

Michael's been doing some exclusive and excellent reporting on the scene embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq.